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What our brands, suppliers and retailers must achieve to earn the coveted Butterfly Mark

The Butterfly Mark certification has been created around an ESG+ framework (Environmental, Social, Governance, and Innovation) in consultation with the Positive Luxury Sustainability Council.

The council includes the British Standards Institution (BSI), Capitals Coalition, UNEP-WCMC, Accenture and a wide range of stakeholders from industry, NGOs and academia including MIT and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. The British Standard Institution (BSI) is a non-profit organisation that provides global services in the linked fields of systems assessment, certifications, and advisory services, providing the expertise to ensure that the Butterfly Mark assessment is rigorous, independent and is underpinned by the latest best practices and standards.

Unlocking the value of sustainability

The assessment aids your business in the development and implementation of a tailored, progressive, action-oriented Sustainability Strategy. It is a valuable tool for the growth of your company’s brand equity and financial health.

We ensure the continuity of the highest standards by updating our assessment with additional modules every six months. This helps you continue to de-risk and future-proof your business by staying ahead of changes in legislation, giving you longer lead times to innovate towards net zero and future proof your business. 

Benefits of Butterfly Mark Certification

The certification enables you to demonstrate your commitment and level of sustainability performance to customers, shareholders, investors and partners, while providing a solid understanding of your current performance. 

By analysing the gaps and risks in your business, it will help you to protect your brand and company reputation as well as integrating ESG factors into investment decisions. It also provides a competitive market advantage when consumers require a green and responsible business.

Our job does not finish with the award of the Butterfly Mark. We accompany you every step of the way on your journey to sustainability, giving you insights into the areas of continuous improvement needed across environmental, social and governance – as well as highlighting where the opportunities are in order to have a higher economic return. Additionally, we provide invaluable knowledge through reports or cross-industry round tables.

Online assessment

Certification requires completion of a simple to use online assessment. We require that companies provide recent and credible formal documentation to serve as reliable proof points. Example documents may include (but are not limited to) sustainability reports, codes of conduct, policies, procedures, certificates and employee handbooks. We also take into account other certifications/accreditations that the company may have.  

Our team will analyse and extract key data from each of the supporting documents provided, and build a bespoke, comprehensive framework that describes and structures your data in relation to the certification’s methodology.

Certification criteria

While other certifications focus only on a specific aspect of production, or the governance of your business, the Butterfly Mark certification gives a 360 degree evaluation of your business.

Our analytical matrix, with an AI engine, takes into account other certifications or industry initiatives that the company has signed up to. We believe that it is collective actions that will help us to achieve a net positive impact in our world. For instance, when we analyse the Social pillar, we base the assessment on international CSR standards such as the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the ISO 26000 standard, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The issues covered in each assessment are based on the relevance of ESG issues to a particular company’s industry sector, size and location.

The Butterfly Mark certification is the most comprehensive certification for companies working towards sustainability. Positive Luxury, the company behind the Butterfly Mark, tailors the certification assessment for each individual segment of the luxury market, from fashion, beauty and retail, to travel, experiences and hospitality, to premium drinks, accessories, jewellery and watches. This enables our certifying teams to have a comprehensive understanding of your luxury brand.

How the Butterfly Mark is different from other trust marks

The Butterfly Mark is different from any other certification due to the high level of customisation of the assessment. In order to fully understand a company’s real impacts, the assessment framework must take into account the industry category in which you operate, size (in turnover terms) and location. These are defined upfront during registration by our client relationship team, then a bespoke framework created on the assessment platform. 

The climate risks, environmental impact and dependencies in the supply chain of a company with a turnover of less than £15 million cannot be compared with a company that has a £200 million turnover. The differences in our assessment are a result of industry consultation. 

ESG+ framework at a glance

Environmental Performance Framework

Environmental practices are employed not only in the brand’s supply chain, but in the logistics of the business. This framework may include reduction of water usage and greenhouse gas emissions; protection of ecosystems, wildlife and animals; responsible manufacturing; considered material/ingredient sourcing.

Some examples of environmental framework standards:

  • Water reduction policies
  • Recyclability of products, packaging and marketing materials
  • Alternatives to animal testing
  • Waste management systems
  • Use of palm oil


Business is envisioned as a force for good, employing responsible leadership that places sustainability at the heart of organisational culture. Governance entails going beyond looking after business interests and stakeholders. It requires taking action to uphold and transmit business principles in an ethical manner to employees and wider society.

Some examples of governance standards:

  • Work against corruption in all forms, including extortion and bribery
  • Non-discriminatory employment policies
  • Commitment to UN Global Goals
  • Diversity and inclusion

Social Performance Framework

A brand must meet high-quality standards based on, but not limited to, human and labour rights legislation and best practice guidelines. The company’s code of conduct will ensure its social framework is instilled throughout all tier one and two suppliers and/or subcontractors, along with external businesses and partners.  

Some examples of social framework standards:

  • International Labour Organisation Core Conventions
  • The United Nations Framework for Human Rights and Guiding Principles
  • Business Social Compliance Initiative
  • No child or forced labour
  • Reasonable working hours and fair pay policies

A company uses innovation to drive the sustainability agenda forward towards maximum social impact and minimal environmental footprint. Innovation is integrated into design and service processes, such as exploration of inventive manufacturing methods or introduction of fresh business models.

Some examples of innovation in business:

  • Product lifecycle management
  • Sharing economy business model
  • Manufacture on demand eg. 3D-printing
  • Repair services provided
  • Circular economy

How do we score brands?

An overall weighting is given for each of the ESG+ areas, as well as a weighting for each of the topics included within the four areas. The weighting is different for small and big companies (under and over £15 million turnover).

The questions asked in the assessment are scored individually, with points between 0 and 100%. The total score is the average between the overall weightings and the individual scores. The activation and weight of each criteria depends on the industry, the size of the company and the location of its operations. Different criteria can be more or less critical, depending on the company’s activities.

The scoring allows companies to help know and articulate their overall ESG+ performance in absolute terms, as well as benchmark against their industry peers.

In addition to scoring, a set of strengths and improvement areas are highlighted for each area of the assessment. This is presented against three key areas:  Policies, Actions and Impact.

Strengths reflect valuable practices demonstrated by assessed companies, while improvement areas indicate areas for corrective action implementation. Each improvement area has a recommended priority level for a potential corrective action plan. 

This analysis will be assessed against a delta of time – 2025, 2030, 2040 or 2050. The best-performing companies being the ones that are implementing change in 2025/2030.

Passing the assessment

Strong criteria that brands have to meet before they can earn sustainability credentials is something that all advocates – and even brands – want. 

To prove its commitment to positive impact and earn Butterfly Mark certification, a business must achieve a minimum 50% pass rate across all four pillars of ESG+

What is different about the updated assessment?

The updated assessment takes into account that the UK has Brexited and that the USA has re-joined the Paris agreement.

The impact of Covid has also forced governments around the world to prioritise green recovery plans. This is accelerating the speed of both the soft and hard legislation that is coming into play.

How long does assessment take?

For small businesses expect between 4 to 8-16 weeks. For larger businesses the average can range between 4 and 24-30 weeks, depending on a number of variables.


As part of the assessment process, we recognise a broad spectrum of responsible business practices and trust marks related to all areas of sustainability.

Approval process

Brands that successfully complete the assessment process earn the right to display the interactive Butterfly Mark on their website as well as retailer websites and other relevant places, like packaging and care labels, making it easy for people to identify brands to trust. However, this is not the end of the journey. 

Companies contribute towards sustainability in different forms, so each brand is assigned a bespoke collection of Positive Actions that signifies their unique sustainable business practices. These Positive Actions, which can be found when clicking on the Butterfly Mark, help brands articulate their measurable impact in a visible, consumer-friendly and simple way.

The brands that do not meet our criteria are offered a tailored toolkit, including clear recommendations on how to improve as well as actions needed to be taken to retake the assessment and eventually be awarded with a Butterfly Mark.

Positive Actions


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